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7 Jan 2003 : Column 32W—continued


Westminster Hall

Mr. Andrew Turner: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission pursuant to his answers of 5 December 2002, Official Report, column 981W, what the (a) capital costs and (b) gross and net annual budgeted running costs have been of the visitor catering facilities off Westminster Hall since December 2000. [87866]

Sir Archy Kirkwood: The information requested is as follows:

Progress will be reported to the Finance and Services Committee.


Green Minister

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which Minister in her Department is

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the nominated Green Minister; how often he has attended meetings of the Green Ministers; and which official has responsibility for the DEFRA rural proofing check list in her Department. [88451]

Dr. Howells: My right hon. and noble Friend Baroness Blackstone is Green Minister for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. She has attended every meeting of the Green Ministers committee held since her appointment.

The DCMS official responsible for the DEFRA rural proofing check list is the Head of the Performance and Innovation Unit.

Soccer Academy (Christchurch)

Mr. Chope : To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what action he is taking in response to the representations of the Mixer Soccer Academy in Christchurch about the restrictions on school students from Korea being able to participate in FA youth teams; and if he will make a statement. [88184]

Mr. Caborn [holding answer 19 December 2002]: Mr. Michael Swift, who runs the Mixer Academy, recently brought FIFA's regulations governing overseas footballers under the age of eighteen to my attention. I have advised him that these are matters for the Football Association and the sport's international governing bodies, and asked him to keep me informed of the progress of his discussions.


Centres of Vocational Education

Stephen Hesford: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment he has made of industry support for Centres of Vocational Education. [88286]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Centres of Vocational Excellence (CoVEs) focus on meeting employers' intermediate skills needs. Employer engagement is central to their success.

An evaluation of the programme is under way and its initial findings will be available next year. However, the Learning and Skills Council (LSC) is impressed by the level of employer support so far.

At a strategic level the Sector Skills Development Agency and the newly created Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) are providing strong employer leadership on the skills priorities CoVEs should address and on the shape of the final CoVE network. Individual SSCs are advising the LSC on the network of CoVEs they need to meet the skills needs of their sector.

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At an operational level SSCs and local employers are increasingly involved in planning, designing and delivering training provision. CoVEs are reporting greater employer interest and involvement. This is resulting in:

Construction Industry (Levy)

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he last met representatives of the plant hire industry to discuss the Construction Industry Training Board's training levy; and when the working of the training levy was last reviewed. [88228]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: I have not had any meetings with representatives of the plant hire industry but one of my officials met John Coyne, Managing Director of the Hire Association Europe, on 27 November 2002.

The levy rates imposed by the Construction Industry Training Board are reviewed annually in consultation with the industry and are subject to parliamentary approval. The definition of the industry to which the levy applies is reviewed if proposals for a change are made by the industry. The last review took place in 1992.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what action he intends to take as a result of the judgment in Gibbon Equipment Hire and the Construction Industry Training Board. [88258]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The judgment by Mr. Justice Keith concluded that the definition of Xcontractor's plant" in the Industrial Training (Construction Board) Order 1964 (Amendment Order) 1992 was clear, unequivocal and unambiguous. Also that Gibbon Equipment Hire was an employer in the construction industry and therefore required to pay the CITB levy.

However I have agreed to consider whether the hiring out of plant and equipment should continue to be included in the definition of the construction industry and am awaiting proposals from the hire service sector.

Further Education Colleges

Mr. Willis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many 14 to 16-year-olds spent one day per week or more at a further education college in (a) 2001–02 and (b) 2002–03; how many will do so in 2003–04; and what research has been carried out to ascertain these figures. [87955]

Mr. Stephen Twigg [holding answer 19 December 2002]: In the academic year 2001–02 there were 5,500 students with academic ages 14 or 15, funded by the Learning and Skills Council, attending FE colleges part time. (Students with academic ages 14 and 15 have

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actual ages between 14 and 16.) Data on the number of local education authority funded 14 to 16-year-olds in FE colleges is not collected centrally.

From September 2002, the Increased Flexibilities Programme enables schools, in partnerships with FE colleges, to offer pupils the opportunity of vocational learning through new GCSEs and part time placements in colleges. About 30,000 14 to 16-year-olds are participating in this programme for academic year 2002–03, the majority of whom will be spending some time in an FE college,

Money to fund a similar cohort is being made available for 2003–04 and 2004–05 as part of Success for All.

As part of the planned evaluation of the Increased Flexibilities Programme a baseline data collection exercise has been undertaken to ascertain the numbers of 14 to 16-year-olds on the programme, and the proportion of them spending time in FE colleges. Data on numbers of young people on the programme for 2002–03 will be available in February 2003.

Individual Learning Accounts

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if he will make a statement on outstanding Individual Learning Accounts, with special reference to (a) the sums cleared for payment, (b) the sums still in dispute on each investigation, (c) the number of providers still unpaid and (d) the number of fraud investigations under way or concluded. [88330]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Since closure of the Individual Learning Account programme on 23 November 2001 to 31 November 2002, #11.5 million has been paid to 3,407 registered learning providers. A total of 698 providers have been subject to review, of these claims totalling #15.7 million have been withheld from 253 registered

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learning providers. Following completion of preliminary reviews, we are discussing repayment of #97 million of potentially irregular payments with 623 providers. The individual provider figures are not quoted as these are commercial in confidence.

The Department's Special Investigations Unit has been asked to investigate 153 learning provider organisations. Of the 153, the police are investigating 100 learning providers. To date, there have been 60 arrests, which have resulted in 10 people accepting cautions and charges being brought against 14 individuals. Charges have since been dropped against two individuals investigated by the National Crime Squad because of the small amounts of money involved. 11 others are awaiting court appearances. One person has been convicted. The precise extent of fraudulent activity will not be known until all investigations are complete.

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